Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wait Just a Minute!

From the comments:
...Unfortunately doctors are not good businesspeople...
How about these statements:
  • Unfortunately, girls are not good at math.
  • Unfortunately, surgeons are assholes.
  • Unfortunately, poor people are lazy.
  • Unfortunately, doctors have lousy handwriting.
Can you say "generalization"? Can you say "stereotype"? Hell, can you say "prejudice"?

The problem with stereotypes of all kinds is not only that they aren't true, but that without careful attention some of them can become excuses. "I'm a girl, so I can't do math." Bad behavior by surgeons is tolerated. And doctors feel that medicine and business are mutually exclusive.

Many factors are out of the control of the people who run a business. The problem with doctors is that we are tied to an industry in which businesspeople (those without a real profession) have discovered they can extract large sums of money without actually doing anything useful within the industry itself. They do this by diverting the flow of funds from those who receive medical services to themselves instead of directly to those providing the services. Is this a great country or what.

I'm may not have an MBA, but I enjoy the business side of my practice, and frankly I'm pretty damn good at it. What others may call "good customer service" I have been doing from day one, only I call it "patient centered care". It doesn't mean giving people prescriptions for unnecessary antibiotics because they think they need them, but it does mean answering the phones promptly and courteously, being flexible about scheduling, helping patients out with paperwork, and all the other crap involved in navigating the nonsense that is our healthcare system. Believe me, I squeeze every last dollar there is to be squeezed out of my business, consistent with the practice of good medicine.

I also do calligraphy for fun. When I handed a prescription to a patient who, without even looking at it, said, "I can't read this" (no, illiteracy wasn't an issue) I laughed and said, "Bullshit!" (Again, it was someone with whom I had enough rapport to get away with it.) When he did look at it he agreed with the rest of my patients that I have beautiful handwriting.

Forgive the rant, but every time I see that old canard, "Doctors are not good businesspeople" it annoys the hell out of me. And beware of the annoyed dinosaur.


At Sun Sep 24, 11:36:00 PM, Blogger Dreaming again said...

Funny, the family doctor I posted about last week took Business classes at the university for the fun of it.

(while running a solo practice)

AND had beautiful hand writing. I had forgotten how nice till we checked out and he gave me the stuff to take to the front with the instructions to give to the check out girl.

I wish my handwriting could compare. Sigh.

Unfortunately, I've been put into one of those stereotypes this weekend ...and it was not a pleasant place to be.

At Mon Sep 25, 08:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well they may not write well but who needs writing skills when we all have computers? Many docs now "write" their prescriptions on the computers as well. I always thought they were supposed to write bad so that their handwriting couldn't be copied?

At Mon Sep 25, 11:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so you're a good doctor and you are smart. Here's a test for you... do you make more money seeing patients or analyzing reimbursement from certain payors?

I know lots and lots of very astute business people who are also physicians. My wife is one of them. The reason they are good business people is that they realize where they make money... in the exam/treatment room.

Hire someone who is good at watching over things, stay in the loop, but generate more revenue and you'll be happier and more financially successful


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